Like awesome dude... Slang from the 90s
April 18, 2012 6:02 AM   Subscribe

Looking for examples of late 20th century slang/lingo has fallen out of common usage?

Interested in terms, designations and expressions from early internet days until the turn of the century, along the lines of this:

"I XYZ. Not!"

Whether they've gone that way through disuse or no longer being zeitgeist, they're particular to that era (and may be unfamiliar to the newest web generation).

Can be internet-specific or just the general kind of thing that folks would bandy about in email conversations.

Been trying to think of examples from popular movies of the day, events and news; from IRC chat or newsgroups, but am drawing blanks apart from the very meh example of "slacker", which is still in use (at least in my house) so does not qualify.

Urbandictionary has loads, but so much obscure filler that it's not helping me identify the particular 10-15 year old expressions I'm after.
posted by kreestar to Writing & Language (54 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I remember "psych!" being big (as an alternative to the above "not!"), also "bootleg" and "phat." Is "hella" too new? I think that's over now, right?
posted by rikschell at 6:07 AM on April 18, 2012

I'm pretty sure "the bomb" is over - but what would I know, I'm old!
posted by Ted Maul at 6:08 AM on April 18, 2012

A lot of "surfer" slang: radical, tubular, cowabunga.
posted by Lifeson at 6:08 AM on April 18, 2012

You might peruse the jargon file. A lot of what's in there seems pretty quaint now (however obscure it might have been to start with).
posted by jquinby at 6:09 AM on April 18, 2012

Valley Girl speak - gag me with a spoon.
posted by wrnealis at 6:14 AM on April 18, 2012

What about gnarly?
posted by AMSBoethius at 6:18 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm really struck when my (70ish) mother still says "it was to die for!" so I'm guessing that one is past. I feel like the late 90s had people saying "I'm all about X" (cheesesteaks, fashion, whatever) and you don't really hear that anymore.

there are tons, but some are regional. in the late 70s, some middle schoolers in Michigan said "bogue" (like vogue) in place of "gross". Valley Speak was a real thing in the mid-80s, and there are probably surfer-speak (or 90210) things from the 90s that are past too.

amazing how hard it is to think back this way!
posted by acm at 6:20 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I like to say "doy" as a throwback.
posted by ariela at 6:37 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: Wasssup?
posted by backwards guitar at 6:38 AM on April 18, 2012

" the max."
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:41 AM on April 18, 2012

"I'm hosed."
posted by drlith at 6:41 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: I don't think people use "Way" anymore ("No way!" "Way!"). Maybe they do.
posted by cabingirl at 6:46 AM on April 18, 2012

The Friends-derived "X much?" has, thankfully, all but disappeared.
posted by griphus at 6:47 AM on April 18, 2012

"[no] duh"

For inspiration you can also watch the wonderful period film Clueless, as well as the series Saved By The Bell and early Simpsons.
posted by knile at 6:49 AM on April 18, 2012

All that and a bag of chips.
posted by sleepingcbw at 6:50 AM on April 18, 2012

I was recently lamenting the loss of "fresh!" as a compliment. That's probably more 1990s.
posted by kuppajava at 6:56 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Hang a left" as opposed to "turn left". I guess that was cool in the eighties, not nineties. Sure sounds outdated now when an older relative uses it.
posted by Ery at 6:58 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: "You go girl!"
"Don't go there!"
Describing attractive women as "foxy"
I also think of the various Saturday Night Live-isms introduced into the culture...
"Excuuuuuuse Me!"
"Well isn't that special."
"Yeah, that's the ticket!" and so on
posted by cross_impact at 7:00 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

despite my refusal to let go, because of my masshole roots, i sadly believe "wicked" and "wicked awesome" are disappearing.
posted by anya32 at 7:03 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Wicked" to mean good, or "wicked" as intensifier, though for all I know they still say this in the Dunkin Donuts of greater Boston. (xp: what anya32 said.)
"As if!"

I would have thought that "Whatever" as a complete sentence was gone, but I just heard my 6-year-old say it, so maybe not.

If kids don't say "no duh," what do they say to convey this incredibly important idea?
posted by escabeche at 7:07 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are people still saying how it's all good, and my bad? Do people with 'tude still need to take chill pills and get a clue? Clue-getting was muy importanté. Très this, boucoup that. There was more fake French around.

Most surfer talk was a bit mocking/ironic but sometimes you just had to admit something was pretty rad.

Do catchphrases count? For awhile there everyone was talking in SNL. Dana Carvey and Mike Meyers ran it into the ground. Did I forget someone? Excuuse me.

Fucking NO FEAR everywhere, but no pain no gain so just do it.

(On preview, damn you cross_impact, and I'd underline "don't go there" three times. Holy shit people would not stop saying that. Also, later, roxx0rz suxx0rz everything -0rz.)

Also, Monty Python everywhere unrelenting. Or is that still going on.
posted by fleacircus at 7:09 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Oxydude at 7:12 AM on April 18, 2012

posted by pearlybob at 7:24 AM on April 18, 2012

Hey remember when 'deck' meant 'cool' for about 10 minutes? I even think there was a MeFi post or discussion within a post about hipsters that derided it for a week or so.
posted by spicynuts at 7:25 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Regarding 'grody', 'gag me with a spoon' et al...I took the OP's statement 'early days of the internet' to mean mid 90s. All that 80s Valley Girl shit was done by like 89.
posted by spicynuts at 7:27 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Internet was around and being used way before the mid 90's. Just fyi.
posted by pearlybob at 7:30 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: "Talk to the hand!" and its more annoying variant, "Talk to the hand, 'cause the face ain't listening!"
posted by castlebravo at 7:31 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can give you some which might be British-specific:



'pez' (peasant = poor)


things that originated from comedy/TV like 'loadsamoney,', 'swing your pants' or 'perfick' - we don't get SNL here, but this is probably our equivalent - catchphrases from adverts or sketches. The Fast Show was fertile ground for this on our side of the pond.
posted by mippy at 7:35 AM on April 18, 2012

Stop trying to make "deck" happen, spicynuts.
posted by escabeche at 8:12 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

HA! NEVER! It's just so deck!
posted by spicynuts at 8:14 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tangential, but you may be interested in the grunge speak hoax.
posted by griphus at 8:18 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Been there, done that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:53 AM on April 18, 2012

we always talked about how fine the boys were.
posted by changeling at 8:57 AM on April 18, 2012

Do people still say that something is wack? Like, damn, son, that rhyme is wack. Meaning crappy or weird.
posted by spicynuts at 9:07 AM on April 18, 2012

posted by mild deer at 9:27 AM on April 18, 2012

Fo' shizzle.
Lock and load!
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:29 AM on April 18, 2012

Oh, man. My husband and I are both of A Certain Age, an age best defined as that stage in life when one is no longer optimally positioned to hold forth on what slang is still cool/relevant and what's not. We engage in gentle, nerdish debates about this kind of language. For instance, I maintain that the phrase, "off the chain" has entered the popular parlance in a permanent way, but my husband considers this horribly outdated. There is one late 90s piece of slang that we are in complete agreement about, however: "gettin jiggy wit __." That one's done, finished, mock-worthy. Right?
posted by little mouth at 9:36 AM on April 18, 2012

despite my refusal to let go, because of my masshole roots, i sadly believe "wicked" and "wicked awesome" are disappearing.

Considering that this dates to at least the 70s to my personal knowledge, I doubt that "wicked" as a Boston-area intensifier will go away any time soon. Hell, people in Newton have been saying things like "divya" for a lot longer than that.
posted by slkinsey at 9:49 AM on April 18, 2012

"word", meaning "seriously"

My 23-year old son is still down with that. I make fun of him for it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:04 AM on April 18, 2012

The Homer "D'oh!"
posted by rhizome at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: Grody (to the max)
Wazzup (as distinct from "what's up" or even "wassup", both of which persist)
"[Person] don't play that" (as in, "Homie don't play that", from In Living Color)
"All RIGHTY then!" (this is from one Jim Carrey movie or another...maybe Ace Ventura?)
"Off the hook" meaning "very cool"
"Whoa" pronounced with the very particular Joey Lawrence pitch (cf 0:22 in this video)

I may have just spent way more time watching Wayne's World than the average 90s kid, but a bunch of sayings from there stick in my head as iconic:
-Shyah! (as in, "pssh, yeah right". Sometimes followed by "and monkeys might fly out of my butt!")
-Asphinctersayswhat? (used as a practical joke on another person, who of course replies to the nonsense with "...what?")
-Excellent! (enthusiastically, as distinct from Mr Burns's evil rendition) - this might be from WW, or from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, or both. Can't remember what came first.
-Party on! (ditto - not sure if this is WW or B&T)

Similarly, Clueless gave us a bunch that existed for a few minutes in the 90s:
-Whatev(er), especially with the "W" hand sign
-Loser, in combination with the "L" hand sign (the word itself, of course, is still in common use)
-A Baldwin (attractive boy)/ a Betty (attractive girl)

I have a feeling there's tons more of these crammed into my head. Will add more if I can dredge them up.
-Totes (to mean "totally" - I still use this ironically)
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 10:54 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Oh god. I've been living in a non english-speaking country for the last 11 years. Half of these examples are still registered in my brain as hip and in. This explains why when I go home to visit, I can't understand anybody and people look at me like I just stepped out of a time machine.

However, dope is still used to refer to things that are truly dope. Usually it refers to drum beats and bass lines.
posted by chillmost at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]



OH NO YOU DIDN'T ! (or oh no, she didn't!)

Girlfriend ! (female to another female, don't think it's used as often).

Dawg, though I think it's still used a bit.

Made ya look !

Austin Powers phrases were heavily used in the late 90s.. 'yeah baby!' 'oh behave'
posted by fizzix at 4:02 PM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: This question is super fly!
posted by trialex at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: bite me.
posted by fizzix at 5:10 PM on April 18, 2012

My personal favorite, that people occasionally call me on is "snazzy". Also, according to my students, people don't say "totally" any more, but that's a little questionable.
posted by zinful at 6:39 PM on April 18, 2012

Oh, also "yo' mama wears army boots". We still see echoes of that today in the fairly-standard "your MOM", but the army boots part has died off.

I used to say "nifty" a lot in the 90s, but I don't know if that was a 90s-ism or a me-ism. Ditto "cool beans".
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 7:12 PM on April 18, 2012

I just caught a rerun of the first episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He referred to the flight as "stupid." Then he translated: "It was really neat."

badgermushroomSNAKE, I remember "cool beans."
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 8:35 PM on April 18, 2012

Best answer: Oh snap!
Barf out!
Groovox (the updated version of Groovy, per the Sassy glossary)
You go girl!

And from late 2000 (still over 10 years old): All Your Base Are Belong To Us and related phrases
posted by SisterHavana at 12:39 AM on April 19, 2012

I have a hazy memory from like 2002 of people randomly putting "dot com" on the end of things as an intensifier, as in "that's awesome dot com!" If this is in fact real, and not the product of a disordered mind, it no longer happens. Right?
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:30 AM on April 19, 2012

For every addition I had to this list, I found that y'all had been there, done that, and got the T shirt.
posted by straw at 6:21 AM on April 19, 2012

Sonny Jim, I do recall people saying that something was "the bomb dot com!" And thankfully I have not heard it in a long time.
posted by zoetrope at 12:10 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I still say 'cool beans' all the time.
posted by Windigo at 1:45 PM on April 19, 2012

OH OH OH 'ate my balls', if we're talking internet phrases.
posted by mippy at 3:12 AM on April 20, 2012

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